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Articles of 2006

The Book of Floyd Is No Fairy Tale

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LAS VEGAS, April 7 – Once upon a time, not so terribly long ago, and not so terribly far from Stanley Ketchel’s final resting place, a star lit the Michigan night and Floyd Mayweather Jr. was born.

Three wise trainers from Michigan came to pay homage. They were Jack Blackburn, Eddie Futch and Emanuel Steward, but the baby boy was already swaddled in family. His father, Floyd Sr., and his uncles, Roger and Jeff, would take the natural under their collective wings and let him soar to his ordained greatness. The celestial P.A. system played Jelly Roll Morton singing, “Michigan water tastes like sherry wine/Mississippi water tastes like turpentine.”

These, then, are the chronicles of Pretty Boy, the legendary boxer who has risen from Grand Rapids to what the Great Profit (cq) Arum has hailed as the greatest fighter of all time, or at least since Muhammad Ali, who tomorrow night at the Thomas & Mack Arena here, and for $45 in most other parishes, will punish the infidel Zabdiel in 12 rounds or less.

He was ordained to box. When he talked of perhaps becoming a carpenter or bricklayer, his grandmother told him, nay, “You were born to greatness in the ring.”

Yea, verily, in utero, Pretty Boy disturbed his sainted mother who believed he was working 12 rounds a day even before birth.

“Feel my stomach,” she would say. “Feel how he’s feinting to his right and throwing the double jab.”

Father, son and holy shadowboxer would have to withstand many doubting dougl-asses who still refuse to anoint Pretty Boy, as if the 35 undefeated feats he has already performed count for naught.

Yet even as the nonbelievers sacrilegiously demean the recent miracles, in the year 2005 alone against Henry Bruseles, Arturo Gatti and Sharmba Mitchell, the legend grows. The infidels want him to wake the dead or part the Red Sea, but Pretty Boy and his disciples have worked some great out-of-ring tricks, too.

From the prodigal son who kicked his father out of the house, a self-styled gangsta who moved to Sin City and tried to live up to its name, Pretty Boy has recently been cleansed and baptized anew. He undergone a religious metamorphosis, an epiphany, and is now the Good Samaritan, who according to revelations given to Saint Kevin, once spotted an entire tribe of shivering Michiganders and bought all 300 children winter outfits.

He has fed the hungry and homeless and what wonders await? Maybe he’ll stop the slaughter in Darfur, once he makes sure no Judah will betray him.

For the very great, of course, there are no limits. Wilfred Benitez used to call himself the “bible of boxing.” There is a New Testament and Pretty Boy’s edition is finally crossing the line, from boxing into hotel room drawers. Even the Profit Arum, one of his early doubters, now answers “never” when he doth see a Mayweather defeat.

This is the same Arum, of course, who has been trying to get Pretty Boy into a duel with Antonio Margarito, a blasphemer from Tijuana who also raises money for the Profit’s Top Rank church. Arum says he has already reserved July 29 for this confrontation of biblical proportions.

Thou shalt not believe it. After Judah is addressed tomorrow night, Pretty Boy will surely pass over Margarito and embark on a pilgrimage to boxing’s Mega, Oscar De La Hoya – a disciple of Pretty Boy’s father and a betrayer of the Profit Arum.

Mayweather’s story has a life of its own and let us pray there can be no other ending to this tale. Somehow, while beating Bruseles, Gatti and Mitchell, Pretty Boy is now, according to the Profit, a greater fighter than Sugar Ray Leonard, greater than Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker or Roy Jones Jr. in his prime.

Amen.

JUDAH’S KISS: Zab Judah, according to Tiny Tim Smith of the New York Daily News, owes much to Don King – but the promoter refuses to put a dollar sign on it. Judah, who blew the welterweight title by showing up unprepared and unfocused in January against Carlos Baldomir, can only make enough to pay his debts if tomorrow night’s bout does unexpectedly big business. Okay, it will be a sellout at Thomas & Mack, but how many people are going to spend $45 on a fight that seems so one-sided that Mayweather has gone up to 6-1 favoritism?

Judah, who like many fighters takes advances on future purses, was so distraught about how much he would clear for facing the sweetest scientist of all, he has not worked at selling the bout. Mayweather has joked that he didn’t expect to shut Judah’s big mouth so quickly, but while I believe Pretty Boy will emerge victorious, this is not your usual 6-1 mismatch.

Judah can fight and his career is on the line. He will be desperate. Naturally the Judah who lost to Baldomir will not be in the ring tomorrow night. But neither will Baldomir. This is no knock on Judah, but Mayweather should win easily and quickly. The operative word is “should.”

Mayweather is faster, probably stronger, and has a much better chin. As Arum says, he knows what punch the opponent is going to throw before the opponent THINKS about throwing it. But I am not ready to sanctify him as the greatest development since my Aunt Ettie’s chopped liver. At 135, does Arum really think Mayweather would have beaten Duran or Whitaker?

PENTHOUSE:  Gene Kilroy, the Great Facilitator, is throwing a little 93d birthday bash tonight at the Luxor for the great Budd Schulberg, whose works include “The Harder They Fall” and the screenplay for “On the Waterfront.”

OUTHOUSE: Rosendo Alvarez, who supplied the only blemish on Ricardo Lopez’s record – a draw – has never been one to pay too much attention to the rules of the game. But he’s been landing a constant low blow in calling his opponent tomorrow night, Jorge Arce, a “faggot.” Arce, better than a 3-1 favorite to shut up Alvarez, landed the best line at the ritual final press conference yesterday for “Sworn Enemies,” a title that seems more befitting of the semifinal than the main event.

“If you spend a night with me, you’re going to love me,” Arce told Alvarez.

MORE DIS AND THAT: No, it isn’t for any title, no matter what the IBFelons say. The only title on the line is Mayweather’s pound-for-pound standing. Which reminds me of what Pernell Whitaker said before his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez. Ostensibly, Whitaker’s WBC welterweight title was on the line, but the Sweet Pea said “He can have that belt if he wants it, if I can find it. I think it’s in a closet somewhere.” Whitaker said he wasn’t concerned with the judges, either, because the whole world would witness who was really the best fighter “pound-for-pound.” He was right. The judges made it a draw and everyone in the game, except for Chavez and Jose Sulaiman, knew who was the Boss Boxer. After the fight, Whitaker in effect said, “I told you so” why he wasn’t disgusted with the official decision. Yeah, he didn’t care – but I bet on him to win, not draw.

Do not belittle Mayweather for taking this fight. He’s not to blame this isn’t a real welterweight championship bout. He agreed to fight Judah before the embarrassing fight with Baldomir. There were no convenient substitutes and Arum hoped he could still sell Mayweather-Judah on the basis that no one would hold Zab to his January performance….A suggestion to Arum if he can’t get Mayweather to fight Margarito in July. Go after Ricky Hatton. That’s a fight I’d love to see and, don’t tell Arum, I think Hatton wins big….If Wladimir Klitschko and Oleg Maskaev beat Chris Byrd and Hasim Rahman, respectively, to join Sergei Liahkovich and Nicolai Valuev as heavyweight strap-holders, 86 from the bar to the first who dub them the “White Russians.”…Good luck to Lamon Brewster on recovery from his detached retina, but I don’t think that was the reason he lost to Liahkovich even though the accident occurred in the opening round. He could see well enough to have his opponent in trouble in the fifth and seventh rounds.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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